Nevada City talks medical marijuana | TheUnion.com

Nevada City talks medical marijuana

Those wishing to be able to legally purchase medicinal cannabis from a store front in Nevada City are one step closer.

City council members unanimously came to consensus about approving a medicinal cannabis dispensary ordinance during their meeting Wednesday night.

While no one outright opposed the notion of medical cannabis use or the need for dispensaries, the consensus didn't occur without some criticisms from the standing room-only crowd and council members themselves.

The majority of those concerns surrounded exposure and access of cannabis products to minors.

"We are very concerned about this cannabis proposal," Jan Westmore said during the public comment period.

Westmore was not opposed to medicinal cannabis, but posed some questions and concerns to the council.

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"My child can open a child-proof container in less than 30 seconds. Why do we need more than one dispensary in a town of our size? And why are sales of medical marijuana not sold exclusively by pharmacists if they need a valid prescription?"

Others approached the council with their statements on educating youth about cannabis.

"I'm going to just address safe access," Shelly Salvatore said. "I'm a patient using high (cannabidiol's), I educate my grandchildren so that they know that I'm not getting stoned 24/7."

Salvatore explained how a dispensary can provide safe cannabis products rather than acquisition through the black market.

"I have dreamed of this for years," Salvatore said. "And Nevada County is leading the way in safe cannabis."

Heather Burke, a local attorney who represents many in the cannabis community, also spoke of the need for a local medical cannabis dispensary.

"I am very excited that you are taking on this historic move in hopefully allowing a medical cannabis dispensary here," Burke said. "Yes it is already available for many in and around the community, however, if you don't know those who have it, it's really hard to get it. I am definitely a fan of how it is shaking out."

Forrest Hurd, a Penn Valley resident, spoke of his son's seizures due to his bout with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

"I've been up for the past 36 hours," Hurd said in response to being up with his son. "I have a son who has intractable epilepsy. Right now we are dealing with seizures that we haven't dealt with for two years."

Hurd explained that when the county banned cannabis two years ago it made it harder for him to acquire the medicine needed to treat his son.

"It can be like a ghetto corner store liquor store, or it can be something that can benefit all of those who need it," Hurd said.

The council came to consensus about approving the ordinance but not after hashing out each councilmembers objections or concerns.

Councilmember Duane Strawser was outright opposed to not having a cap on the allowable number of dispensaries.

"Absolutely, I think it needs to be at one," Strawser said. "The issue with the monopoly argument is a wasted point due to the fact that Grass Valley is moving forward too."

Mayor Evans Phelps brought up the result of the workshop and planning commission decisions which resulted in removing the cap of dispensaries.

"The workshops, look who attended," Strawser said. "They are a viable part of this community, but they showed up to support it."

"So you're at two dispensaries, I'm at 602 dispensaries," Mayor Evans Phelps said facetiously about placing a dispensary cap.

Ultimately, the council came to a consensus about their proposed changes to the ordinance and decided on placing a dispensary cap at one, as well as keeping the 600-foot buffer from parks and schools. They also agreed to keep zoning that allows the light industrial, general business, and local business with exclusion of the historical district.

A rewritten ordinance will come back to the council at the next meeting before the ordinance can formally be voted into place.

To contact Staff Writer Elias Funez email efunez@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4230.